Prince Philip, 99, makes rare public appearance during military ceremony at Windsor Castle

22 July 2020, 14:50

Prince Philip shared a mischievous joke with a soldier about his fitness levels
Prince Philip shared a mischievous joke with a soldier about his fitness levels. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Prince Philip has taken part in his first official public engagement for three years during a military ceremony at Windsor Castle.

Despite seldom being seen in the public eye these days, the Duke of Edinburgh still managed to show off his mischievous sense of humour when sharing a chuckle with 33-year-old Lance Corporal Colin Streetin at the brief event.

In his typical good form, Philip joked about the soldier's fitness levels as he stepped out at the ceremony.

The Queen's 99-year-old consort was attending the Windsor Castle event to formally hand over his role as Colonel-in-Chief of the infantry regiment The Rifles to the Duchess of Cornwall.

During the proceedings, the duke carefully walked down the steps of Windsor Castle's Equerries' Entrance to meet four buglers from the Band and Bugles of The Rifles.

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Philip was handing over a military role to the Duchess of Cornwall
Philip was handing over a military role to the Duchess of Cornwall. Picture: PA

L/Cpl Streetin said afterwards that Philip quizzed him about his other roles when not playing the bugle and he highlighted his work as an assault pioneer, providing engineering support to frontline troops.

The soldier said he told the duke: "We're assault pioneers as well", and he replied, "Oh, you're keeping up your fitness then?"

He added: "But he looked me up and down and I thought 'Are you trying to say I'm fat?' - that's what we were laughing about."

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The duke retired from public duties in 2017
The duke retired from public duties in 2017. Picture: PA

For almost 70 decades Philip has been closely associated with The Rifles and its earlier regiments, acting as Colonel-in-Chief of the infantry unit.

However, after retiring from public duties in 2017, he has now handed the role over to Camilla - while she was almost 100 miles away at her Highgrove home in Gloucestershire.

She accepted the honour during the second half of the ceremony.

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Camilla accepted the honour in the second half of the ceremony
Camilla accepted the honour in the second half of the ceremony. Picture: PA

The Rifles' Colonel Commandant, General Sir Patrick Sanders, said: "We feel it's a bittersweet day because we're enormously proud of our association with the Duke of Edinburgh, who has been the most amazing Colonel-in-Chief, and we've really flourished under his tenure.

"But it's also really special to have the Duchess of Cornwall coming in because she has a long association with The Rifles."

Philip stood upright and listened as he was thanked for his 67 years of support for The Rifles, and their forming and antecedent regiments, by Assistant Colonel Commandant Major General Tom Copinger-Symes.

The duke, who had been Colonel-in-Chief of The Rifles since its formation in 2007, was last seen at a big event when he was a guest at Lady Gabriella Windsor's wedding in May 2019.

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